An update of sorts

I recently received an email from a reader (Hi, Allison!) asking if I will be updating this blog soon or if it's a lost cause. I realized I've been gone for two months and while I don't think most people care one way or another, I thought that it would be better if I just replied in an open letter to everyone who frequents this blog.

The last half a year have been a whirlwind of sorts for me. My dog had back surgery which depleted a lot of our savings, we are planning a small wedding ceremony upon the request of friends and family (why we agreed to it I would never know - I'm giving up a honeymoon in Scotland!) and in the latest bout of really tragic news, my PhD program has come to a grinding halt because I felt that I was going nowhere with it, I loathed the topic I was working on so much that I procrastinated to the point of being unproductive when it came to publications. I was stressed and scared and unmotivated and had absolutely no clue what I was doing.

Anyway, not to get into the nitty gritty details, now that I don't know where my next source of funding will come from, I'm trying to spend as little as possible (omg, no more imported cheeses!) which I guess explains why I have had no new posts of late or am even motivated to write about anything. I'm physically and mentally spent, depressed and broke. I have many things to be thankful for - a supportive partner, a loving dog (he will lick your sadness away) and a great family. I'm the kind of person who wallows in self-pity and am pretty obsessive and obstinate, so it's easy for me to get fixated on the negative things and kick myself in the head about it. Sometimes I think about burning all my engineering/science books and running off to join a rock band or work as a cook.

I looked at my closet just last night and thought about all the things I had accumulated over the years and the one thing I think I can safely say is that - it pays to build a good wardrobe. I can just envision that for the next three years while I'm still depressed and broke and chopping vegetables at Taco Bell, I'll still be doing it in my Steven Alan shirts.

In the end, I will say please stick around for a few more months and I'll be sure to sporadically post about my latest adventures in digging myself out of this abyss. I apologize if I have turned this blog into pages from 'The Bell Jar' but thank you for sticking around.

35 comments :

  1. Hi Amanda, I am sorry to hear that things have not gone to plan with your PhD. I'm not sure exactly what it is that you are studying, but could you not just find employment in your field with your under-grad degree? If you are no longer enjoying what you have chosen to study, then maybe what happened is for the better? Just think, three years from now you may look back at this time and think how it shaped a really happy result in your life. I think for the time being just look after yourself and look forward to your wedding, what will prove to be a very special occasion I'm sure. Good luck with things!

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  2. I wish you all the best Amanda, and I for one will definitely stick around :)

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  3. Oh dear, Amanda. You've had a sh*t run lately, haven't you. I was wondering where you had gotten to. You've got one of the most thoughtful blogs that I read. Without being tedious! That's quite an achievement!

    I want to tell you that I am just emerging from the work 3years of my adult life. I found out that my (now ex) boyfriend had withdrawn almost all of our house mortgage to fund his secret cocaine addiction, I got so sick that I had to stop working (I couldn't be out of bed for more that 1-2hours per day), I spent all of my significant life savings paying all of my bills while I couldn't work, I lost my dream job (because I couldn't go back to work for more than 2 years so they fired me), my grandfather died, etc, etc etc. I was in the deepest darkest hole imaginable. I am telling you this because I want you to see that there is always hope and things do turn around. Sometimes not in the way you expect, but they do. I can honestly now say that I am happier than I've ever been, have met some amazing people who have helped me out (and still are), and I'm not back to 100% health but I'm getting there. And I have an EVEN BETTER job than that dream job I lost.

    So just take things as they come and try and trust in the process. You'll be ok, things will turn around. And be gentle on yourself. :)

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  4. Oops. Work 3 years should be WORST 3 years.

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  5. I am so sorry to hear about this - it sounds really rough. Of course I will wait until you feel motivated to post - your blog rates among my favourites :)
    I don't know what you will decide re: your PhD, but I completed a doctorate a few years back and I don't think anyone has a comfortable ride through the process. And that's when the rest of your life is going well. I can imagine how exhausting it must be to grapple with it when you have had so much other stuff going on. Be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself. You have a lot on your plate and as Belinda said (what an inspiring woman she seems to be!) be gentle with yourself, things will get better. Sending you positive thoughts.

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  6. You seem to have a lot of positive things in your life so I am sure that you will find your way soon. Sometimes the hardest times put you on an unexpected path. It is difficult when you are in the middle of the tough time but this too will pass.

    I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to you posting as and when you feel up to it. xx

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  7. Your honestly is so refreshing and addicting. As a college student, I'd so rather read posts like this than posts about material goods. Keep striving on - and don't hesitate to share your journey with us.

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your recent troubles with your Ph.D. work and send my best wishes to your dog--hope he will get better soon! I think life is the most troubling when progress appears to grind to a halt, but we all figure it out one way or another as long as we don't let anxiety cut us down from doing what we really want in life. I wish you the best in your wedding planning! I know that is extremely stressful!

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  9. Yikes, you have been through quite the series of trials and tribulations. For the PhD, all I can say is it's wise to walk away from it if the topic is something you can't stand - continuing on and dedicating that many years to something you're not motivated about is a recipe for disaster anyway. Given how fraught with uncertainty a PhD can be (even from just my own relatively positive experience, my PhD has involved plenty of stress and self-doubt and demotivation and procrastination), I think it's a pretty brave thing to call a premature end to it. I've got a few friends who have started a PhD and then felt like things were going wrong and it was just not the right thing for them to be doing, and I admire them for making the executive decision to do something else - and in all cases, they have ended up doing something else that they *much* prefer. Hopefully the same will be the case for you, and it's awesome that you have your partner and family to support you and help you through figuring/working all this out. All the best. :)

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  10. I have no words to bring comfort so I'm just going to be very generic and wish you all the best. It will get better.

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  11. amanda, i'm so sorry to hear about all this turmoil. i am a huge fan of your blog and i, like many others commenting before, hope that you'll find a way to continue to blog. in the meantime, i'd be happy to email you with some more detailed thoughts on stuff...

    anyway big hugs and we're all rooting for you!!

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  12. I hope that things get better soon. Just remember that this difficult period will make you a stronger person in the long run. Human beings are alot more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. I am happy to have found your blog as I've learned alot from it, and I hope that when you feel better you will start posting again.

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  13. I am so sorry that things have been so bad! I enjoyed your blog - i hope that even if its to vent that you update it.

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  14. Hi, I am a regular "lurker" on your blog and this post is so relevant to my own situation I just wanna post a comment to cheer you up. I have been a researcher for some time and came to realise that working on a topic in-depth for the rest of my life is not something I wanna do. Esp since the topic my job requires is not something I agree with. After seeing examples from my former and current colleagues and supervisors as well as people like yourself, I am more convinced than ever that doing a Phd is not for me. Yet it is getting difficult to find a job with a Master's degree as most employers find you over-qualified. It must not have been easy for you to put aside abruptly what you have been researching for the past few years. But I am glad this happened before you get even deeper into it. I hope things work out for you and am thankful for the support networks you do have. My own hubby is a darling and my family members help me as well as they are able. Take care and be strong! I hope you have a lovely wedding!

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  15. So sorry to hear that things are very rough for your right now, Amanda! I went through a difficult patch that lasted for 4 years, and in some ways it was the very best thing that could have happened to me--the amount of personal growth you will undergo from this will give you amazing reserves of strength and fortitude that will see you through the rest of your life, even when things get much better (which they will eventually!). Oftentimes the discomfort and wretchedness you feel in bad situations will give you the near-superhuman strength you need to get out of the bad situation and find something much better than you could have imagined.

    Now, is there some way that you could have a career as a blogger? :-) Because you're a darn good one!

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  16. Sounds like tough times, but know that you have created a little cyber community of people here who care about you and how you are doing, and will cheer you on through the best and the worst of it. Enjoy the little things, breathe deeply, and remember that it will all get better.

    http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

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  17. It sounds like you're making the best of a terrible time, and I admire that you still sound like you have a sense of humour and self-awareness about all this. Hang in there, and as always, it's good to know how you're doing and hope all these messages here provide some modicum of support!

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  18. Definitely keep writing, and I promise you things will get better, they always do…

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  19. Big hugs to you, Amanda. I'm so sorry to hear about how tough things have been. Your fall-out with your advisor sounds terrible as does your dog's back surgery (though I'm glad to hear that he's doing better!). And although it sounds like this is a really difficult and scary time for you, at least you have the opportunity to trying something new and exciting, should you decide that academia isn't the thing for you anymore. Maybe joining a rock band and/or becoming a cook isn't a terrible idea! There are so many other more exciting things to do in this world than being in academia. We are all rooting for you!

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  20. I am going through my own trials and sufferings at the moment so I am right with you on being lost. It seems everyone else who commented has in some way gone through a period of utter chaos as well. Things will never get easier but you can and will get better at dealing with the crap thrown your way. If you're able to make yourself laugh I think you'll be just fine. Take care!

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  21. yep, yep, this all sounds so familiar! i've been dealing with a lot of depressing stuff, too. much of it is comeuppance. but yeah, PhD work is rough, and the only reason i forced myself to finish was because i have zero marketable skills. and even with a PhD....hm. i think it will get better, and not everything is doom and gloom, but it sure feels like it when unemployment is always lurking around the corner. i hope it gets better!

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  22. Hey Amanda, Allison here, thanks for the update. I can really relate to what you're going through. I did a Ph.D. back in the 1990s and was really unhappy the whole time. I did finish, but barely. It was scary to leave behind what I had been doing (music) and finally just admit to myself (after 2 years of academic teaching!) that what I really wanted was to be a journalist, but once I did, I couldn't believe how much happier I was. Since then, I've never looked back and never had any regrets, except maybe that I wish I had let myself follow my instincts sooner. Anyway, I understand how agonizing the whole thing can be. My husband has a Ph.D. from M.I.T. and works now in business - he hates academe and we always talk about how unhappy we'd be if we had stayed there. If it's any consolation, it's clear from your blog that you're a good writer and interesting thinker about many topics, and I'm sure there are many other pursuits in which you'd thrive. In the meantime, will enjoy reading your blog whenever you feel moved to post! Good luck and I know you'll come through this.

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  23. amanda, i'm so sorry to hear about this impasse. like many of your readers, i'm in academia and can certainly attest to its spirit-sucking soul-expunging aspects (do i sound bitter?). i had a horrible time in the later stages of my phD (in math) mostly due to the (mostly) male misogynist grad students in my area. i weathered all that to finish only to find a crappy job market and a discipline that was still very much an old boys' network. While i try to have no regrets and I do enjoy the teaching component of my job, I do often wonder if i should have chosen a different path. many of my female friends in academia have had a similar experience to yours in grad school and some have left academia and some have stayed. i think the sum total of my experience and that of my friends' is that careers for women are impossibly hard in any discipline, especially the sciences. period. the hardest thing these days is to find your path, because there are so many choices open to us. i hope you will find yours and you can use a time like this as an opportunity to re-evaluate your choices. whether you change directions or push through with the phD, be assured of your intelligence, talent and creativity. rest assured, you won't be working at taco bell, my dear!

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  24. of course we will never abandon you and your blog! anyway even though i am probably the umpteenth person saying this, but really all the best for you and your dog with and for everything else as well ok? we're all here.

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  25. one of the reasons i love your blog is that it's so honest, amanda. i'm really sorry to hear you're going through a rough time. grad school was one of the most challenging periods of my life, and i sympathize with you. it can be scary letting go of something you've been working on for a long time, but learning that you don't want to do something is important knowledge too!

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  26. hello, realness. i totally appreciated this post. your writing is what speaks for itself, whether it is punctuated by fashion or not. thank you for being honest with your readers. shit happens and we all have to dig ourselves out of the abyss every so often. i am almost done with medical school and i have had my fair share of tragedies, deaths, and blues so i hear ya. better days will come, but don't give up the fight.

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  27. your blog is one of my favourites, and I would never stop reading! I wish you the best of luck in figuring things out with your phd -- my partner finished his last year and the whole process was really gruelling, so I can understand where you're coming from. I hope you get to do what makes you happiest in the long run, whether that's continuing with your studies or going to work in Taco Bell. :) x

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  28. oh wow, that phd fiasco sounds horrible! I hope you get things worked out, best of luck :)

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  29. As somebody who has recently completed a PhD I understand how miserable the entire experience is. One of my friends made the decision to leave academia within 6 months of completing her PhD and is much happier now that she has found what she wanted to do(She is also on a much better salary than the meagre alms that academia provides and works better hours if that is any consolation). I wish you the very best of luck whatever path you decide to follow.

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  30. Hang on there! I'm also in a same boat and without funding, and my posting has become irregular as hell, too. It has become quite sad to see what's out there when I know I can't. Those who will stay will stay, those who won't, won't, but I think you have a very attentive following for your thoughtful commentaries and I don't think you have to let the blog affect you in ways you would not want otherwise. I myself also thought of deleting the blog but I postponed making that decision, I was afraid to check who was still reading but then I realized how much I was letting the number factor affect me in a sense.

    take your time, and take care,

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  31. Hi Amanda, so sorry to hear you're going through a rough time. Thank you for sharing with your readers about your life even though you don't have to, and I hope things will only get better for you from now on!

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  32. Oh Amanda honey you'll be fine! Face up :) Congratulations on the wedding.

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